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Lotus Notes Arrives on Linux

IBM announced this week it is shipping a Lotus Notes client that runs on top of Linux in a move one analyst says is primarily about reassuring Notes customers that their old standby collaboration platform continues to have a place in Big Blue's evolving Linux strategy.

"Ever since IBM began the process of migrating users to WebSphere, they've been losing [Notes] customers...this is a way of saying [to those customers], 'No, no, no, we're not killing off Notes'," said Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group, in an interview.

IBM's press release pointedly says the idea is to continue to promote Linux on the desktop, calling the release of Lotus Notes 7.0 for Linux "the industry's first business-grade collaboration software to support Linux on the desktop." But that may not be IBM's full intent.

Enderle does not see Notes on Linux as yet another move towards trying to popularize Linux as a desktop operating system. Rather, he thinks it is more of a move to staunch desertions from IBM Notes to competing collaboration and e-mail platforms -- namely those from Microsoft.

The underlying message is that users will be able to continue to be supported if they run systems based on Notes even as they move forward with IBM's next-generation systems plans.

"I'm not convinced that Notes helps Linux at all but Linux certainly does help Notes," Enderle said.

IBM Lotus Notes on Linux is now available as part of version 7. It supports Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4, Update 3, according to IBM statements. Support for Novell SUSE Linux Desktop for Enterprise 10 will ship in approximately 90 days. It will be available to currently licensed Notes users at no additional cost.

About the Author

Stuart J. Johnston has covered technology, especially Microsoft, since February 1988 for InfoWorld, Computerworld, Information Week, and PC World, as well as for Enterprise Developer, XML & Web Services, and .NET magazines.